“She was thinking of white paper and dark ink, and the difficulty and danger of scoring a page with lines of ink, to make it sing, if it could. If she could make it.”
“A Lion Among Men: Volume Three in the Wicked Years” by Gregory Maguire
There is no denying that Gregory Maguire has done an amazing thing with his Wicked Series. He has taken a familiar, beloved place from childhood literature and fleshed it out with a leaning towards political intrigue and social scandal. He has a penchant for that; one of the first books I read by Maguire, Mirror, Mirror, stands as my absolute favourite, where he took the Snow White story, placed it in the hands of a wide-eyed innocent Spanish girl and plopped it right into the lap of history with the Borgias. I’ve also had the chance to read Wicked, and I found it just as enchanting as I was lead to believe it would be. I have yet to acquire a copy of the second Wicked book, Son of a Witch, but I knew a good deal of it through my exposure to it via roleplaying. I happened to have A Lion Among Men because it was on sale one day at a good price and I finally picked it up to read it and found it…very underwhelming.
I’m still not sure if I wasn’t as enchanted by this particular volume because the conventions of Maguire’s Oz are getting stale, or if the Cowardly Lion just wasn’t nearly as captivating or intriguing a character as Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West. Quite frankly, I almost felt that it simply didn’t match up enough with my personal impression of the Lion. Maybe I felt his connection with the rest of the gang was, at best, coincidental, and he seemed a poor choice to direct action through. But I just didn’t connect with this book in the same way I have the other books by Maguire that I’ve read so far.
It still contained a great deal of classically delicious Maguire lines and descriptions, though; he has a particular gift for writing poignant notes on writing, responsibility, and sex. I would love to see how he might handle some of the rest of the Oz lore after The Wizard of Oz, especially with Ozma, who has always been a character of great interest of mine. I would definitely read any more volumes of the Wicked years that might come out (especially if I get my hands on them cheap like this one!), but A Lion Among Men left me hungry for more of Maguire’s usual fantastical luster.
Books Read: 33 out of 100.